BUTLER, Pa. – “Here it comes!” Jeannie Cook shouted over the rotor blades as a fleet of helicopters flew out of the setting sun, blinding thousands of eyes focused on the arrival of President Trump in the heart of red America.
According to today’s Butler Eagle, no president had ever visited Butler County. “It almost feels like Christmas Eve,” the newspaper wrote.
But instead of Santa Claus, it was Mr. Trump who stopped by for the third of four Pennsylvania rallies in one day, mostly locations where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016. If Mr. Trump is able to overtake the Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania polls on other battlefields where he lags Joseph R. Biden Jr., he’ll be the white workers in places like Butler County, which has a 9,000 steel mill To provide employees with energy again.
Supporters like Ms. Cook, 62, viewed the president heroically and had no doubt that he would be re-elected. “Because he’s the greatest president,” she said.
When voters cast ballots on Tuesday, Pennsylvania was the potential turning point for the presidency, and perhaps Mr Trump’s best hope of holding one of the so-called blue wall states along with Michigan and Wisconsin, which he narrowly won four years ago, to secure the White House. His advisors believe the state is up to date, the next competition on the map.
Mr. Biden spent all or part of the past three days in Pennsylvania, the surest sign of his importance, and visited his childhood home in Scranton on Tuesday.
“From this house to the White House by the grace of God,” he scribbled on the wall.
Vote counting is expected to take longer in the state than many other major battlefields, and litigation is already ongoing. But if Mr. Trump defies the polls, his hectic rally schedule in the home stretch could deserve much of the credit, reminding his base of why they flocked to vote for him four years ago when he promised their jobs foreign competition and protecting immigrants from it.
As the sun set in Butler County, north of Pittsburgh, on Saturday, Mr Trump marveled at his supporters, shoulder to shoulder and mostly unmasked despite daily records of coronavirus infections. “You can’t even see the end of people,” he beamed. “There are a lot of people here.”
Images from this huge rally shocked some prominent Pennsylvania Democrats. “This is not Photoshop,” wrote John Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor, a Democrat, in a series of Twitter warnings. “Can’t fake a lot like that.”
Phillip Keil, hearing from Mr. Trump, was optimistic. “I think it’s going to be a landslide,” said Keil, 65, who owns a car wash company in Gibsonia, Pennsylvania. Like the president, he trusted crowds, courtyard signs and other omens more than polls. The president has an average of 5 points behind him in Pennsylvania. As he drove to the rally in a pickup truck adorned with Trump signs and flags, Mr. Keil said, “I had a finger and five beeps and hurray.”
For avid Trump supporters, many of whom are sealed under a dome of misinformation from the president and his media supporters, he is a champion. He did the best a president could have done to fight the coronavirus scourge, supporters say. He lowered taxes and sparked a roaring economy. He alone stands between a free republic and a full attack on freedom if the Democrats in Washington take control.
Nadine Schoor, 63, watched the President’s arrival in Butler on Saturday from her veranda just behind the airport and compared his leadership of the country to that of a strict but omniscient father.
“I look at President Trump and we are the family – the country is the family,” said Ms. Schoor, who works for the district government. “And he’s the parent. He has a lot of hard love and he doesn’t.” Care about what someone thinks to get something done that they know is right. “
All of Pennsylvania doesn’t look like Butler County. On election day, there were people out of sight in the Democratic strongholds of Philadelphia and elsewhere.
Rich Fitzgerald, the district manager for Allegheny County, which also includes Pittsburgh, boldly predicted, “I expect Joe Biden to get Allegheny County 150,000 votes this time.” Ms. Clinton’s lead in the county four years ago was 108,000 votes.
Mr Trump faced a particularly tough battle in suburban Pennsylvania, where his support among women has waned over the past four years.
Bucks County, just outside Philadelphia, fell less than a percentage point for Mrs. Clinton in 2016. By halfway through 2018, the Democratic Senate candidate had 14 points. This year, Mr Biden is hoping to increase his margins in places like Bucks where dissatisfied Republicans weren’t hard to find.
“I think Trump is just an embarrassment for the country,” said Andy Innocenti, a 62-year-old retail manager. He’s a Republican, but this year he voted for Mr. Biden and “Democrat across the board” to send a message to his own party.
The Biden campaign expressed confidence that it had achieved a cushion of support in the early vote. after the Democrats returned 1,641,000 postal ballot papers by Tuesday morning, compared to 586,000 returned by Republicans.
Republicans were expected to vote disproportionately in person on Tuesday, and Mr Trump’s campaign had made a far larger investment in ground operations.
Both polling and analysis Of the more than 100 million votes cast across the country prior to Tuesday, it suggests that Mr Trump has lost ground with college graduates compared to four years ago. To compensate for this, he will have to extend his advantage over white working class voters even further than in 2016.
In Armstrong County, where Mr. Trump received 74 percent of the vote four years ago, Pat Fabian, a Democrat on the district commission, predicted Mr. Biden would “shave that 10 or 15 percent” – an improvement that would repeat itself in Pennsylvania would likely doom Mr. Trump.
Here’s a guide to reporting on the Times Election Night no matter when, how, or how often you want to consume it.
- If you just want results … There will be a results map on the Times home page, and yes, the notorious needle will be back – but only for Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, the only states that provide enough detailed information for our experts to make informed projections from countless voices to create.
- If you want constant updates … Times reporters blog live day and night. This is your one-stop-shop for up-to-the-minute updates: race calls, on-site reporting from swing states, news about voting problems or disruptions, and much more.
- If you want to check in every now and then … Times journalists produce a live briefing from around 5 p.m. by 3 a.m. ET with an overview of what happened in the presidential race, the races in the Senate and House of Representatives, and the voting process itself.
The Trump campaign in Pennsylvania has highlighted the months of in-person solicitation and outreach with low-frequency voters that resulted in an increase in newly registered Republicans in some countries. The state has 2.2 million non-graduate white voters who did not vote in 2016, more than the other Blue Wall states of Michigan and Wisconsin, which had steadily become democratic for years through 2016.
Wendy Hummel, a 72-year-old Republican, waited Tuesday in Bucks County to cast her vote for Mr. Trump because he was “for life and not for death” and related to abortion. She was ready to overlook Mr. Trump’s own less than pious personal story. “He’s on his way with the Lord,” she said, “and he’s learning like the rest of us.”
Across the hall, in a middle school where the voting line zigzagged through the school and where so many cars were piled in the parking lot that many were parked on the lawn, Jessica Voutsinas had her ballot in email more than two and a half hours. She was concerned about the Republicans’ efforts to disqualify such ballots and planned to cast them and vote in person instead.
Ms. Voutsinas, 24, called herself a climate change voter unsure how Bucks, a swing county in a swing state, would vote.
“It seems aggressively moderate to me,” she said.
Prior to the Trump rally in Butler, a supporter named Jeff, who refused to give his last name because he distrusted the media, admitted that “it looks bad” if Mr. Trump wins a second term. He accused the media of failing to cover the president’s achievements and “the criminal activities in which the Biden family was involved”.
Among the president’s triumphs, he cited “saving many women and children who have been abducted” for sex trafficking, part of the unsubstantiated QAnon conspiracy theory.
Mr. Trump has fueled countless conspiracy theories. For months he has raged that he will only lose if the election is “rigged,” and has insisted that mail-in votes counted after November 3rd that are expected to favor Mr Biden are fraudulent – an unfounded charge.
In such an atmosphere where Mr. Trump’s base is not prepared to accept a loss as legitimate, Mr. Biden’s task of bringing the country together should he become president would be immeasurably more difficult.
On the last weekend before the elections, Emily Skopov, a candidate for the legislature, campaigned in an affluent suburb of brick houses north of Pittsburgh, where almost every resident was a registered Republican. Almost no one was ready to speak to her.
One couple who listened to Ms. Skopov’s pitch (“I’m not a communist or a socialist!” She said quickly) were Brian and Patty O’Connor, whose opinions reflected the gender divide that has threatened Mr. Trump.
Mr. O’Connor, a lawyer, denounced Mr. Trump’s personality but said he would vote for his re-election. Ms. O’Connor said she was “embarrassed” about voting for Mr. Trump in 2016, but remained undecided days before the election. “We have five children, we sent them through schools; Taxes are a big problem for us, “she said.” We practice Catholics. Abortion is a big problem sometimes. Personally, I don’t like Donald Trump. “
“I don’t know, I’m really telling you I’m undecided,” she added.